I’ve mentioned my goal of becoming a published author several times before. Ever since I learned how to read, I have always wanted to be a writer. I’ve often thought to myself “how can these people create such amazing worlds and such brilliant characters?” In essence, I too wanted to create a whole new world into which a reader can escape. And so I wrote. When I little, I remember making ‘mini-books’ for my mom and dad. I’d staple notebook pages into a book and write stories. Then when I was a little older, I started writing actual short stories. During junior high, I even loved to write book reports. I even wrote book reports for friends just for fun. All of my teachers had told me that I had talent. When I got to high school, I wrote even more. I had several short stories printed up in our school literary magazine, and I was the editor-in-chief of our school paper during my junior and senior year in high school. I even submitted my work to national magazines (though I only got the infamous “positive rejection letter”). I really thought writing would be my career. My high school teachers thought that writing would be my career. Today, most of my high school teachers seem surprised that I work in such a conventional field.
When I got to college, I applied for this writing fellowship program they were offering in school. It was a program in which you became a writing fellow and critiqued students’ works (e.g., academic papers, take-home finals, etc.). I did not get a fellowship. After that rejection, I told myself that I was not good enough to be a writer. So I stopped. I didn’t even want to declare English as my major anymore. After all, I did go to a school where English was the major, and everyone else was uber-talented. I thought to myself, “why would I even dare to compete?” So I turned to something else and gave up on my writing career. I concentrated instead on Sociology and focused on social problems in third-world countries. However, I did not forget about my writing passion. The urge to write is still in my heart, I guess. Every so often, I enroll in a writing workshop hoping to motivate myself to write again. This is why I even started this blog. My blog is not so much a vehicle to communicate my day-to-day activities (after all, my life is hardly worth chronicling). I write mainly to exercise. A writing instructor told us that it was very important to write everyday. It didn’t matter what you wrote, and it didn’t matter how it was written. Whether it be brilliantly-written prose or free association, she said writing is writing.
I’m revisiting my whole love affair with writing because of a book I recently read entitled Truth and Beauty: A Friendship. It is a memoir written by Ann Patchett chronicling her friendship with Lucy Grealy, a woman suffering from Ewing's sarcoma. They met while in college but did not become close until their post-graduate studies at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Both women intensively pursued a career in writing. Throughout the novel, she discusses the various programs and fellowships they had applied to and attended, as well as described their dedication to their craft. It is clear that they affected each other’s work. What struck me the most (aside from the poignant story, of course) is how hard these women worked to make their dream a reality. Writing is not about talent alone. As the saying goes, it’s 10% talent, and 90% hard work. It is a job. It made me realize that I can think of writing my novel all I want, but if I don’t put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard), nothing will ever happen of my dream. Nor do I kid myself and think I'm this uber-excellent writer. I am not. I'm rusty.
I’ve been contemplating the idea of getting a Master’s in Fine Arts (M.F.A.) for a while now. After reading “Truth and Beauty,” I’ve thought getting an MFA even more. It’s a grueling 2-year graduate program that would basically force you to come up with a novel (or other creative piece of work). All the classes take place in the evening as most students do have day jobs. I’m thinking of applying. But let’s look at the practical side: 1) it is expensive and would require me to take out a loan (we’re talking at least $24K); 2) an M.F.A. would do nothing to add to my current career; 3) I’d have to go back to school and would have very little leisure time left over; and 4) I would be forced to re-live the life of a poor student all over again for the next 2 years. On the other hand, it’s something that I want to do. I am not getting any younger, and I’m not getting any closer to my dream goal. I believe this would be a great way to achieve my goal.
I guess I could just keep on chugging on the novel by myself and simply enroll in workshops here and there. However, I know I would greatly benefit from this type of structure. In addition, I’d be learning from top writers and learn from other writers. The next step for the moment is to simply go through the application process and see if I get accepted. More than likely, they won’t even accept me and therefore, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting money for tuition. However, not being accepted would be my biggest fear as well. In any case, I have almost a year to decide on this next step. The deadlines for most of the programs have already passed and I would have to apply for next year’s program and begin in the fall of 2006. All I know is that if I do apply and enter this program, the decision would be from the heart, for myself, and for no one else but me.
Keane @ Radio City Music Hall
I saw Keane perform at Radio City last night and the hubs was nice enough to accompany me. I was really into Keane when I first bought their album, but by the time the show came around, I almost lost interest in going. I still like their music, but I was a bit peeved at having to pay $50 for a ticket. Come on now, they only have one album out and we all know they’re just going to play for an hour or so! In any case, I’m glad I went. They were excellent live and it was funny to see the group dynamics play out on stage. There are only three of them in the group: singer Tom Chaplin, keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley, and drummer Richard Hughes. Keane sounds a little like Coldplay in that they are mellow and their songs are layered. It was very interesting to see that the keyboardist basically played all the parts by himself! What a feat! Tim Rice-Oxley rocks! He was very lively despite being somewhat tethered to the keyboards –he moved about, did this constant leg shaking, and did not miss a beat. Chaplin was good. He kept talking to the audience and constantly thanked the fans for making them a huge success. He kept telling stories of how when the band was first starting out, he thought playing at Radio City was only a pipe dream. It was nice. You can tell they were genuinely thankful to be there. So why were they charging $30 for a freaking shirt?!
Keane played a little over an hour, which included a 3-song encore. They also featured little clips on a screen that I enjoyed. The clips featured animation, video stills, and live action from the stage. When they played their hit “Somewhere Only We Know,” everyone in the hall sang along. Everyone. It was very feel-good indeed.
Song of the Day:
Somewhere Only We Know by Keane